Female follies

May 14, 1999

Leonard Shlain's argument about goddess worship ("Writing on the wall for goddesses" (THES, May 7) makes sense if these assumptions are true:

* there are such things as "male" and "female" values

* these are located in different hemispheres of the brain

* that the written word and the visual image have different effects on these male and female parts of the brain

* that we "live in an age of pictures rather than words"

* that there has been a "resurgence of feminine values, holistic thinking and respect for nature" as a result of the previous point.

The records of Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi and Edith Cresson in power show that women are not necessarily caring or gentle. That takes care of the first assumption.

As for numbers two and three, even if one were true, they assume much that is unproven in a scientific sense.

As for the fourth assumption, never before has so much written material been available to such a literate population and read by it.

Finally, how can the fifth be true when we live in a world with ethnic-cleansing dictators, democratically elected politicians who believe in "humanitarian" bombing and narrow-thinking bureaucrats, not a few of whom are female, none of whom gives a damn about the effects of depleted-uranium shells, nuclear waste and oil spills?

Paul Thatcher

University of Portsmouth

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